Waterside Chat: Join the Conversation

Waterside Chat Online Discussion Series

The Network’s Waterside Chat online discussion series connects people who depend on healthy oceans and fisheries with the issues that directly affect them and their communities. In each edition, Network Deputy Director Tom Sadler talks with guests about current ocean policy and fisheries management topics and what policy decisions mean for people’s livelihoods, communities, recreation, and coastal ways of life.


September 28, 2022: Fishing Guide and AFFTA Executive Director Lucas Bissett

In this Waterside Chat episode, Capt. Lucas Bissett joined host Tom Sadler on September 28, 2022. Lucas is the executive director of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, and he’s also an award winning saltwater fly-fishing guide, a member of the Marine Fish Conservation Network’s National Policy Council and a stalwart conservation advocate. Lucas and Tom – old friends and fellow fishing guides – talked about:

  • Why fly fishing is such a central part of Lucas’s life, going back to his childhood in Louisiana
  • How Louisiana – which loses a football field of land to the sea every 100 minutes – is the poster child for the devastating effects humans can have on an environment
  • How the Black Mangrove Project, which Lucas founded, has blossomed into something far larger than him
  • Why it’s impossible to have any conversation around a marine or freshwater fishery without talking climate change
  • Why we need to include climate-change components into all of our fisheries management regimes
  • How fly-fishing can unite us past the partisan squabbles. Once you experience a day of fishing with someone, he says, that person becomes a real friend

Lucas also highlighted Tomorrow’s Fish, an AFFTA project that “contextualize the importance of engaging in saltwater fisheries conservation”. Watch the episode to learn about this project and much more.


August 24, 2022: Alaĝum Kanuux, the Proposed Heart of the Ocean Marine Sanctuary off Alaska

On August 24, 2022, Waterside Chat host Tom Sadler was joined by Marissa Merculieff, director of the Office of Justice and Governance Administration for the Aleut Community of Saint Paul Island, and Lauren Divine, director of the Ecosystem Conservation Office for the Tribal Government of Saint Paul Island.

Tom and his guests talked about Alaĝum Kanuux (Heart of the Ocean) and the potential for this marine sanctuary in the Bering Sea off Alaska, including a historic co-management agreement between the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island and the federal government to establish co-equal governance and decision making for the sanctuary. Among many other topics, they discussed:

  • The importance of the local community’s voice driving in the sanctuary nomination
  • How the Aleut people’s history of forced migration, slavery and forced labor on the Pribilof Islands have shaped their approach to Alaĝum Kanuux’s proposal to co-manage the sanctuary with the federal government
  • The powerful relationship local residents have with the region’s fur seals, whose population is unfortunately declining
  • The islands’ boat-building heritage
  • The importance of fishing to the islands, including the local long-line, small-boat commercial halibut fishing fleet
  • How bycatch can shut down a whole fishery
  • The economic and conservation implications of the resources and prominence that come with a sanctuary designation

For more on the islands’ history, Tom’s guests recommended “Slaves of the Harvest” (book, unfortunately out of print) and “People of the Seal” (YouTube video).


July 27, 2022: Jen Levin of True Fin

Jen Levin, the president of sustainable seafood supplier True Fin, joined Waterside Chat host Tom Sadler on Wednesday, July 27th for a lively and wide-ranging conversation about the seafood industry in the Gulf of Maine and much more. They discussed:

  • How True Fin buys directly from more than 35 fishing boats in three states
  • How high-quality fish-handling processes open new markets for seafood from the Gulf of Maine
  • What the Japanese word ikejime means and why it’s relevant to their work
  • How climate change is altering Gulf of Maine ecosystems, and why it means that the fishing industry needs to diversify into areas like under-utilized fin fish. Could lobsters eventually disappear from the Gulf?
  • How new approaches could help smaller fisheries compete with massive seafood imports

May 25, 2022: The Latest on Bristol Bay and Pebble Mine

Sam Snyder of the Wild Salmon Center and Scott Hed with Businesses for Bristol Bay joined Waterside Chat host Tom Sadler on May 25, 2022. They talked about:

  • The EPA’s May 25th announcement of a proposed determination to prohibit and restrict the use of certain waters in the Bristol Bay watershed as disposal sites for the discharge of dredged or fill material associated with mining under Clean Water Act Section 404(c)
  • Background on the Bristol Bay watershed, which supports some of the richest salmon fisheries on the planet, along with the people and wildlife who depend on them
  • The threat posed by the proposed Pebble Mine
  • Concrete actions you can take to help protect this vital resource and national treasure

April 20, 2022: Rick Crawford

Rick Crawford joined Waterside Chat host Tom Sadler in April 2020. Rick is the creator and host of The Sustainable Angler, an award-winning podcast, and founder of the Fly Fishing Climate Alliance. They talked about:

  • Rick’s love of the Low Country, and how his concern for his children’s future there drives his work. In his eyes, addressing climate change is fundamentally conservative.
  • The everyday effects of a changing climate he sees in Charleston, South Carolina, including sunny-day flooding and changes in the tides.
  • How he helps companies make the business case for sustainability.
  • How fly fishing guides, shops, lodges and brands can be a model for other industries if the move to net-zero carbon emissions.

March 16, 2022: Chef Dana Honn

Listen as Chef Dana Honn, chef-owner of Carmo in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, Louisiana talks with the Network’s Tom Sadler about seafood, fish sourcing, the culinary world and his involvement in marine resource advocacy. Among many other topics, they discussed:

  • How “origin-to-table” goes beyond “farm-to-table,” and why it’s important to know the traditions behind what’s on your plate.
  • Why it is important to know your suppliers, from fishermen to distributors.
  • The pros and cons of serving up roughly 85 different species of seafood in Chef Honn’s restaurant. (Most restaurants rotate among 10 different species on average.)
  • Why improving seafood sustainability depends on building a stronger community.
  • The secret to cooking good fish at home. (Hint: Aretha Franklin sang about it.)

Laissez les bons temps rouler!


January 21, 2022: Linda Behnken

Our first Waterside Chat guest, Linda Behnken, has fished the waters off Alaska her entire adult life. She is executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) and co-chair of the Marine Fish Conservation Network’s Policy Council. The Network’s Deputy Director Tom Sadler talked with Linda about her experience fishing in Alaska, her work with ALFA and her thoughts on the impact of climate change on fisheries management and fishing communities.

Watch the video to learn:

  • Why policy discussions should not be climate vs. jobs, but instead about climate AND jobs.
  • Why Alaska is ground zero for climate change, and what Linda recommends the Biden administration do to ensure climate policy keeps pace with the changes she sees all around her.
  • How shifting fish stocks are impacting Alaska’s Indigenous cultures and economies.
  • How Linda’s sons are becoming part of the next generation of fishermen, and what ALFA and others are doing to ensure they carry the conservation torch and have a prosperous commercial fishing future.
  • And much more.

The Network’s next Waterside Chat will take place in May. Please join us!